Singer-songwriter Willy Mason, who lives in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, has toured with Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Kweller, and Radiohead, and he opened for Norah Jones at the 2010 Montreux Jazz Festival. Mason’s albums include Where the Humans Eat (2003) and If the Ocean Gets Rough (2007).
Lexicographer, musicologist, composer, conductor, and pianist Nicolas Slonimsky (1894–1995) is celebrated for his many contributions to the world of contemporary music, but perhaps none has matched the influence of his 1947 book, the Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Containing more than 1,300 scales and progressions (including “palindromic canons,” “sesquitone scales,” and “infra-ultrapolations,” many devised by Slonimsky himself), the 244-page tome has inspired musical luminaries ranging from John Coltrane to Frank Zappa; Aaron Copland once told Slonimsky, “Now if I am stuck for an idea, all I have to do is consult your book.”
For its 18th compilation CD, Esopus invited a diverse group of musicians and composers to choose a scale or pattern from the Thesaurus to use as the basis for a brand-new song. The resulting CD proves that Slonimsky, whose life was in large part devoted to encouraging and promoting the efforts of contemporary musicians and composers, continues to influence, inspire, and provoke.